ZombieVille and Battleheart developer quitting Android, Expect a lot more f-word articles


Earlier today, the developer behind ZombieVille USA and Battleheart, Mika Mobile, blogged that they would no longer develop for Android, stating that they found the cost to support the platform unsustainable.

We spent about 20% of our total man-hours last year dealing with Android in one way or another – porting, platform specific bug fixes, customer service, etc.  I would have preferred spending that time on more content for you, but instead I was thanklessly modifying shaders and texture formats to work on different GPUs, or pushing out patches to support new devices without crashing, or walking someone through how to fix an installation that wouldn’t go through.  We spent thousands on various test hardware.  These are the unsung necessities of offering our apps on Android.  Meanwhile, Android sales amounted to around 5% of our revenue for the year, and continues to shrink.  Needless to say, this ratio is unsustainable.

As expected, the blog is being picked up by sites all over as an indication of the dreaded fragmentation argument. I won’t look at it through rose-tinted glasses: I know there are complications with supporting so many devices. I personally have never ventured into development where platform-specific issues arise.

However, there are tons of examples of apps succeeding in the Android Market that provide a really good experience, so maybe there’s more to Mika Mobile’s lack of success. One finger I could point to is that the last time they updated either Battleheart or Zombieville was July of last year. That seriously harms the game’s search results, which could be the reason they have only seen 50,000 to 100,000 downloads in both games.

I always compare the fragmentation issue with web-development. I’ve been doing some for the last six months, and with all the cross-browser issues, I must admit, Android development (keep in mind, the non platform-specific one) feels like a piece of cake.

Raveesh Bhalla

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  1. Can’t say I’ve heard of the games or the developer. I’d say that’s a bigger part of their issue. A lot of what I grab from the market is either due to word of mouth or it is pushed to the top of the heap in some manner. As stated in the article, obviously the development can be done so I think they need to stop their whining.

  2. So do they develop for iOS? I regularly use both platforms, and I have never heard of any of these games.

    1. You don’t play game apps for iOS or just bought a smartphone : p

      You haven’t heard about them because they don’t release a ton of games.
      ZombieVille was an early big hit when it first came out waaaay back in 2009 and even had a sequel which came out in Oct 2011. Battleheart also has a huge following. For the most part they just sat on their laurels, the only other game they released was OMG Pirates.

      Just like one commenter said by the time to Android port came around the hype had faded. This is partly the reason I gave up buying games from the Android Market.

      1. I really fail to understand the meaning of your last line, do you buy games to play them or just to brag with others that you’ve got the latest coolest game?

        1. Most if not all my game Apps are from iOS. Yes I do play the games I do get. I do have all the games I listed except for Battleheart. Most of the big name Android games are already months old when it comes to the Android Market, if I can play them sooner on another platform why shouldn’t I buy it from the App Store?

          Part of the divide will still be due to hardware. Some people don’t but the iPhone 4S for gaming but if they do they have access to every game that came out just by coincidence. If I bought a low end Android phone then decide I want to at those high end Tegra games then I’m screwed.

          Having a single hardware very similar may not sound appealing to most Android buyers but this is the environment for games. Sure this developer sounds pretty lazy considering the weak effort they put in but its this attitude that turns people off to Android unfortunately. Too bad the game growth didn’t match the tremendious growth hardware technology made in comparison to the iPhone line.

    2. Battleheart was probably my top game of 2011. Best game I’ve played on any handheld in a very, very long time.

      My hearts broken cuz of this news =/

      1. Was a supporter of the game on both platforms. With such a growing number of games on both, when one group intentionally takes my cash, and then stops supporting it.. it makes it very easy to justify never buying one of their apps on either platform again.

      2. Wow you really don’t play many games if a game as shallow a featureless as Battleheart was one of your favoritore games then I feel bad for you.

  3. It also doesn’t help that they took so long. I didn’t buy either game on Android as I had already played them to the point of exhaustion on my iPad.

  4. I’ve heard of both their games, they were high on the charts a couple months back. The fragmentation really is bad, Google needs to do something about this.

    1. Read the last paragraph of the article.

      1. Exactly. As someone who has developed for the web, Android, desktops, servers, integration and all manner of stuff Android sometimes is actually a breath of fresh air. This is what I’m starting to believe. Many of these whiny ass devs are actually folks that just learned to code and did so because of the iOS rush. Its all they know. So they come to Android expecting all this hand holding and guidance crap. Android is real programming like any other normal platform. You can do just about whatever you want or need. Because I’m trying to understand how devs build the same game for PC, PlayStation, Xbox and Wii without a problem. Telling you a bunch of devs got caught up in this bullshit one platform to rule them all that iPhone was headed towards.

  5. So basically he just wants it easy and he’s going to go develope for apple and their boring phone.

    1. Very bluntly, yes, (s)he wants it easy, who doesn’t? Fragmentation is a very real problem with Android. Many app developers would rather develop for iOS because they don’t have to try to make it compatible with dozens of different devices for little profit and the aggravation that goes along with it. Developers aren’t fanboys, in general, they’re fans of what makes them the most money the easiest way possible. You only need to look at the Android Market (sorry Google Play…that’s so damn stupid) or the Amazon App Store to see how many things don’t work on various devices. Nothing seems to work on LG Optimus according to the descriptions in a lot of the FAotDs. To be fair, there *are* a lot of stupid people who will, for example, download a live wallpaper, then rate it one star and write a bad review because it “won’t open” *facepalm*
      Rather than talking about Jellybean while most (ie, almost everyone) doesn’t have ICS yet, they should really start setting some sort of standards for Android. Choice is a beautiful thing, and integral to what makes Android great, but there is such a thing as too much of a good thing. If I was writing apps, I honestly wouldn’t want to have to make sure that it works on not only say, Android 2.3, but the different hardware across the devices running 2.3.x and testing it on each device, etc.
      Certainly, Google should always be looking to the future, but to start talking about Android 4.1/5.0, they should try to work with the OEMs and carriers to work together to try and get everyone on the same page as much as is possible.

      1. It costs money to make money-what a novel idea… To have to work to “Maintain” a good business/service/product is soo ridiculous, right? Darn, go back to iOS then.

        1. I was never on iOS to go back to it. I love Android, but that doesn’t mean that I am blind to the issues involving it.
          Yes, it does cost money to make money, but I think you missed the point of my post. I wasn’t trolling, I was stating very conversationally what I thought was rather obvious to everyone.

          1. Get fired up much? :) You’re really something-I don’t know what but, you’re it. I’ve been the one trying to walk you off the cliff once you began your tirade over a silly game-I haven’t been at all bothered by your rhetoric, if anything, amused. I suppose using the word, “impotent” or “underoos in a wad” is maybe too much for posting & that too is amusing-I’m okay with that, as well. Enjoy your opinions & know that it’s irrelevant to all here, mostly me. End.

      2. And then we all get stuck with some slow ass chip set because theres no competition to drive advancements.

        If you want to develop games then suck it up and do the work just like devs developing anything else for any other type of cross platform system have to do. The dream of the single smartphone world is over. Time to learn what it means to be a real dev.

        1. I think your ire is misplaced. I’m not a developer, I’m a particle physicist. I leave the dev work to the devs. Like Androidess, I think you missed the point of my post completely.

          1. I’m speaking to devs. Not you directly. Tired of watching certain devs compliance while others plow through games and apps like lightning. When a game doesn’t sell on Android they start reaching for excuses instead of questioning whether the game is even interesting to the Android crowd.

          2. Ah, I apologize, I misunderstood where your dev comment was directed. Yes, I do agree 100% that some devs are lazy, or just plain suck.  There was a live wallpaper called NexusMod2.0, and the dev had the public-relations ability of a pit-viper. He posted a very insulting video telling people how stupid they are, and usingf air quotes when referring to Bugless Beast (old OG Droid ROM), I think he was a member of Team Douche, I don’t remember, or care, honestly. At any rate, he was a prime example of what you are talking about. Instead of making his app work for Android 2.2, he decided to insult everyone.

          3. No, girlie-I didn’t misunderstand your point-perhaps you misunderstood mine. Either way, don’t take personally nor be so sensitive-especially, since you’re not the Dev. Merely, made a casual point.

          4. Sem ekki gera allir skilningarvit. Eitthvað var missti í þýðingu. Er það hjálpa þér ef ég skrifa á íslensku?

          5. Ardderchog, rydym wedi sefydlu bod y cyfieithwyr yn gweithio. Mae pob kidding o’r neilltu, yr oeddwn yn gwneud arsylwi mewn ffordd gyfeillgar iawn ac yn wrthrychol. I chi ddewis i fod yn Trol. Nid wyf yn gwybod beth i’w ddweud wrthych.

          6. What a total trolling tool.

          7. LOL. “Trolling tool”. Why are you telling me that you’re a trolling tool? That’s painfully obvious. You troll me for making an observation, get bent out of shape, and since a mod removed your comment, you start another Disqus account (yes, I know that’s you, Androidess, “Android Davenport” has only one post in one place – here) just to post that? I don’t know what your problem is, but I suggest that you grow up and get over it. If you get that bent out of shape because someone on the internet posted something that you don’t agree with, and then you go to those lengths to call someone who only posted a reasonable, conversational, objective post a troll, then internet forums and comment boards probably aren’t the place for you. I don’t know what to tell ya. Good luck to you.

          8. By the way, apologies to you for another accusing your post as being mine; however, I agree with you. Evidence speaks volumes.

  6. Yeah I have been pretty disappointed lately with tablet apps and I love Battleheart. Also Andy Rubin dodging questions about why aren’t there any good tablets apps has finally made me decide to buy my first iPad. I won’t give up my Nexus phones without a fight though.

  7. I think a lot of IOS developers port their apps over and expect immediate sales based on their IOS reputation. You get out of it what you put into it. They werent willing to put a lot into it. 

    1. Another self fulfilling prophecy story. These guys release ports of iOS apps months after the hype had worn off, and when they don’t succeed magically they point fingers at everyone but themselves. They’ll be back, the market share numbers are just too good for Android.

    2. I agree, the android app was missing content from the iOS app.  I sent them an email asking why, and they basically told me android wasn’t worth their time, months ago.  Yet, they wonder why it didn’t sell as well.

      They’re lack of care about the android system won’t be missed. Their potential will be though. I really liked their games on iOS.

      1. I develop software and if I stated what they did about not developing for Android anymore, I would be considered lazy. They wanted much for little. Don’t treat one platform second class and people may buy your software. 

    3. Ive never had or used an iPhone, how am I supposed to know about the IOS hype?

      1. Sites like this one report about “the top selling iOS app is coming to Android!” and also in the apps description on the Android market, usually states that it was a top selling iOS app or something to that extent. 

  8. Android apps have to be maintenanced, yes. Shocking idea. When you develop for a platform that has more than one set of hardware, it takes more work. You can’t just slap it in the Market at wait for the money to roll in. Suck it up and deal. This isn’t iOS.

  9. Just imagine how much better his games could have been if had spent 80% of their time on Android.  Spending only 20% of their man hours and only 5% of their profit sounds about right to me.  Crap in crap out.

    1.  And how it says “Thanklessly”.  Really?  So not one person paid any amount of money for your app?  Read what you wrote.  Making a profit is us saying thank you.

  10. If the math is correct, they won’t be missed too much. 

  11. The over use word of fragmentation is irritating and cry me a river. I’ve seen many developer big and small deal with the variety of devices with much success. What do they do is they have take a stand decide on which they to support(devices/screen size etc) and go from there. Yeah, people with whine and complain but at the end of the day they still have to make money and I understand that. 

    I have both game and while I do enjoy both games(Battleheart & Zombieville) which are actually fun titles. There has been a total lack of updates since its release so what have they been doing? Yeah, if you look at their site it is all about the other OS. Didn’t Angry Birds say they had like 2 people working on it and look at Rovio? So really…? Instead of blaming ‘unsustainable’, ‘fragmentation’ is bs.

  12. Never heard of either of them. So the problem must not be Android. Lol. Looks like shit anyway.

    1. Battleheart is my probably one my top favorite games on ANY platform. It really was THAT good.

      I’m hoping the devs move onto the Playstation Vita and release a sequel there. I don’t care what platform, I must have it!

      1. LOL no it really wasnt that good. It was kind of crap actually. No story, nothing that special about it. One of the most boring games I’ve played in years.

  13. lol, so lets all just buy SHiTTY iProducts then! Clearly closed OS’s and 2 meaningful proudcts can easily service all walks of life because the iPhone and iPad are perfect for everyone! so effin NOT.. lameasses!

  14. Iv played battle-heart its a good game. But still only have to maintain 2 games on Android and they complain what about those other dev. who have more games. 

  15. It’s funny how these dumb little throw away “games” have defined iOS and how they’re used as ammunition by their camp to point out how “superior” their platform is cause it has all the “sweet” games and apps… I say, “who cares”… if I really wanna game on a small device, I’ll pick up my Vita and play a real game like Uncharted… seeya Mika Mobile

    1.  ios gamers can’t even imagine a real game such as Uncharted.

  16. It’s their fault, not fragmentation. If you played Zombieville(and I’m sure battleheart was the same), it was very clearly a rushed port. They didn’t seem to put any time into it. And then it was never updated. 

    And it’s a shame, because their games are fun and I was looking forward to Zombieville and Zombieville 2. Thankfully, my friend bought Zombieville before me and warned me about it.

  17. Well, the game was pretty but lacked depth, like so much beefcake, and like a night with the same, it ended too quickly and left me unsatisfied. In the end, true rpg gamers want depth. battleheart led me back to nethack…so I guess I need to thank them as we close the door on their way out.

  18. Does the Apple market allow for trailer videos on the device or in iTunes? Never payed attention when messing with iOS devices. Because I just looked at the trailer in the market and didn’t find it all that interesting. It also didnt help that they didn’t bother to fix the end of the trailer to not say available on all iOS devices or at least add Android. I mean if you dont give a crap about the platform why do you expect the users to give a crap about your game?

  19. I’m glad I didnt buy their game. I had zombieville on my old iphone (before I switched to android). It was great but I noticed right off the bat that the android version was basically missing everything they added the the apple one. Since they didnt update it for months I just figured it was dead anyway. Kinda surprised this is just coming out now.

  20. Now that Google makes apps not appear if they aren’t supported for your phone/tablet, it kinda seems like a no brainer to me, develop apps for the best selling devices and work on the less popular devices as time/money permits.  Eventually the market will balance itself.

  21. Thumbs down to this company. Good bye and dont let the door hit you in the ass if your not going to put forth anymore effort than this and then cry about it. 

  22. >only seen 50,000 to 100,000 downloads

    LOL, Raveesh. So at $2.99 a pop, that’s _only_ $100K to $200K after Google’s cut. Not bad for a small dev team in the mobile game market IMHO.

  23. Never heard of the games or the developers, but upon a simple look on Google Play I notice they don’t have a free version of it. A free “demo” version is the minimum effort required to make some money. 

  24. maybe your game just sucks. sorry ’bout your luck.

  25. If you try yourself on a platform that didn’t go through many different hardware and software configurations, and then peek into a more differentiated market, you should know that you need a new improved job organization.
    Anyway there’s one thing I still don’t like in the Mar… Play search engine : updated apps ARE NOT new apps

  26. This breaks my heart. Battleheart was the best — yes, BEST — smartphone/handheld game I’ve ever played. Everytime I would show someone this game, their jaws would drop..

    I was SO looking forward to a sequel and now…. I have no hope. Sad, sad, day =(

    1. Never did the zombie one but I loved the hell out of Battleheart — it perma-loves on my Xoom.

      Was hoping for more levels…  /sadface.

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